Falcon 9 Rocket on Internal Power and Ready to Launch

Everything is looking great as NASA’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) spacecraft, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, prepares to launch into the sky from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. We are now just about 5 minutes away from liftoff.

NASA Launch Director Tim Dunn reported the rocket is on internal power and it is ready to launch. Stage 1 launch load is complete.

NASA’s IXPE Mission Nears Liftoff

IXPE and Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad
NASA’s IXPE mission is set to launch from Kennedy Space Center at 1 a.m. EST. Image credit: NASA

In just about 10 minutes, the Falcon 9 rocket’s nine Merlin engines will roar to life, sending SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and NASA’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) spacecraft into space. The rocket has been fueled with liquid oxygen and RP-1 – rocket-grade kerosene. The Falcon 9’s engines are chilling in preparation for launch.

Excitement is building as IXPE, NASA’s first dedicated mission to measuring X-ray polarization, nears launch. IXPE will study changes in the polarization of X-ray light through some of the universe’s most extreme sources, including black holes, dead stars known as pulsars, and more.

Weather Outlook Great, IXPE Locked in for 1 a.m. EST Launch

The weather outlook for NASA’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) launch from Kennedy Space Center remains outstanding. Weather officials with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron predict a greater than 90% chance of favorable conditions for liftoff of NASA’s first dedicated mission to measuring X-ray polarization.

Propellant load is underway, which eliminates IXPE’s 90-minute launch window.

“We have committed to this and we are committed to a T-zero at 1 a.m.,” said Mic Woltman of NASA Communications.

Fun Facts About NASA’s IXPE Mission

IXPE spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket
NASA’s IXPE is the second Launch Services Program mission to fly a previously flown Falcon 9 booster. Photo credit: SpaceX

Here are some fun facts you may not know about NASA’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission:

  • IXPE will study targets over a broad range of types of astronomical X-ray sources with emphasis on black holes and neutron stars.
  • The mission will accomplish, for the first time, high-sensitivity measurements of the polarization of X-rays coming from some of the most exciting types of astronomical objects – neutron stars and black holes.
  • The mission will accomplish, for the first time, imaging X-ray polarization measurements from extended objects such as exploded stars and jets attached to super-massive black holes.
  • IXPE is the first Launch Services Program (LSP) mission to launch from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A.
  • The mission involves the first use of Kennedy’s Launch Control Center Firing Room 4 for the launch of an LSP mission.
  • IXPE is the second LSP mission to fly a previously flown Falcon 9 booster.

Stay right here for continued blog coverage, or tune in to NASA Television, the NASA app, or the agency’s website, which started at 12:30 a.m. EST, for live broadcast coverage of IXPE launch day activities. Launch is set for 1 a.m. EST from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Live Broadcast of NASA’s IXPE Launch Starts Soon

NASA's IXPE mission logoTune in to NASA Television, the NASA app, or the agency’s website, starting in about 10 minutes (12:30 a.m. EST), for live broadcast coverage of NASA’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission.

Liftoff, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A, is targeted for 1 a.m. EST. The Launch is managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy.

IXPE will study changes in the polarization of X-ray light through some of the universe’s most extreme sources, including black holes, dead stars known as pulsars, and more. The mission is NASA’s first dedicated to measuring X-ray polarization.

Click here to learn more about the IXPE mission.

Key Launch Day Milestones for NASA’s IXPE

NASA's IXPE spacecraft
Tune in to NASA Television, the NASA app, or the agency’s website, starting at 12:30 a.m. EST for a live broadcast of the IXPE launch. Photo credit: SpaceX

Here is a look at some of the key milestones for today’s IXPE launch:

Mission Timeline (all times approximate)
LAUNCH AND SPACECRAFT DEPLOYMENT
Time                      Events
1 a.m. EST             Liftoff
T+153 sec              First stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
T+156 sec              First and second stages separate
T+164 sec              Second stage engine start 1 (SES-1)
T+220 sec              Fairing deploy
8.1 min                    Second stage engine cutoff 1 (SECO-1)
28.7 min                 Second stage engine start 2 (SES-2)
29.8 min                 Second stage engine cutoff 2 (SECO-2)
33.3 min                  Spacecraft separation
66.7 min                 Second stage deorbit burn

IXPE’s launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is now about 40 minutes away. Coverage of launch day activities will continue here on the blog. Also, tune in to NASA Television, the NASA app, or the agency’s website, starting at 12:30 a.m. EST for a live broadcast. Liftoff, from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A, is targeted for 1 a.m.

Weather Looking Great for NASA’s IXPE Launch

The weather outlook for today’s early morning launch of NASA’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center is terrific. Weather officials with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron predict a 90% chance of favorable conditions for liftoff, with the cumulus cloud rule serving as the primary weather concern.

A collaboration between NASA and the Italian Space Agency, IXPE is NASA’s first mission dedicated to measuring X-ray polarization. Launch, which is managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy, is targeted for 1 a.m. EST from the Florida spaceport’s Launch Complex 39A.

Coverage of launch day activities will continue here on the blog throughout IXPE’s milestones. Also, tune in to NASA Television, the NASA app, or the agency’s website, starting at 12:30 a.m. EST for a live broadcast.

What is NASA’s IXPE Mission All About?

NASA's IXPE spacecraft
NASA’s IXPE spacecraft carries three state-of-the-art space telescopes with special polarization-sensitive detectors. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission sounds cool, and even has a catchy name. But what is IXPE’s goal and how did the project come about? Here is a more in-depth look at IXPE, NASA’s first satellite dedicated to measuring X-ray polarization.

IXPE is going to explore some of the most extreme and mysterious objects in the universe – including black holes and pulsars – and the X-rays they emit. It is the first mission that will map the polarization of many of these objects.

IXPE carries three state-of-the-art space telescopes with special polarization-sensitive detectors. Polarization is a property of light that holds clues to the environment from which the light originates. By providing the first-ever dedicated look at polarized X-rays, IXPE will help us discover the secrets of some of the most extreme cosmic objects of the universe: the remnants of supernova explosions, neutron stars and black holes in our galaxy, and super massive black holes at the centers of galaxies.

NASA selected IXPE as a Small Explorer mission in 2017. The IXPE project is a collaboration between NASA and the Italian Space Agency. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama manages the IXPE mission. Ball Aerospace, headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado, manages spacecraft operations with support from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the Explorers Program for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Stay right here for continuing blog coverage of Thursday’s 1 a.m. EST launch of IXPE from Space Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Welcome to Live Coverage of the IXPE Launch!

IXPE spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket on launch pad
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, carrying NASA’s IXPE spacecraft, stands ready at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021. Image credit: NASA

Happy late Wednesday evening, and welcome to live coverage of NASA’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) spacecraft mission from Florida’s Space Coast!

Standing tall atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, IXPE is set to lift off from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in just about 90 minutes (1 a.m. EST, Thursday, Dec. 9). The Launch is managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy.

Stay right here for a live blog that will take you straight through the launch day events. Or, tune in to NASA Television, the NASA app, or the agency’s website, starting at 12:30 a.m. EST, for a live broadcast.

It has been all good news on the weather front thus far, but we will keep you posted on any updates from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron prior to launch of NASA’s first mission dedicated to measuring X-ray polarization.